Varied Design Processes and the Difficulties of Distance

20 and 5254 are at very different places in very different design processes. 20 has a variety of prototypes that work to varying degree and is downselecting and packaging some of them together in CAD. 20 gets most testing done in the prototyping stage and the ideal dimensions and materials are given to the design team to put into CAD.
5254 prototyped exactly one shooter in a few iterations, one collector, and downselected on concepts early on. 5254 currently has a robot driving around crossing defenses and shooting goals, but much of the robot isn’t optimized in the way 20’s prototypes can be.

Despite very different processes and places right now, I expect both teams to have good robots in 2016.

20 can afford to have 4 different shooter prototypes, 2 different collectors, multiple drivetrain configurations testing for the defenses because the team has people and resources to test all of these things. Students run under the assumption that their prototypes will end up on the robot only if they are more effective than the other prototypes and fit within our design goals.

5254 cannot, but from reflecting on the 2015 season we realized that we excelled at iteration. 5254’s robot changed drastically over the course of 2015. So we decided to pursue a rapid design process with them, where we had a robot concept in CAD by the end of week 1 and a mechanically complete robot by week 2. The robot is currently driving around scoring goals and crossing defenses better than I think many teams will this season, but I expect the final product we bring to our regionals to look quite different. Additionally, this early start is good for 5254 in a few other ways-

  1. The team is building two robots for the first time this season so we can practice and iterate better between events and between stop-build day and our first event
  2. Programming this year is intense, with smart autonomous modes being necessary to do one ball autonomous modes through many of the defenses, and a lot of programming-based optimization necessary for shooting accurately into such a small goal
  3. Tasks like hanging on the tower are low-priority items compared to crossing defenses and shooting, but need a considerable amount of engineering effort, especially with the updates to G18 and the space available on the robot.

20 has the resources to prototype climbers concurrently with shooters, and is used to building two robots during the season, so that process makes more sense over on 20.

Lastly, the past week attempting to package mechanisms on 5254’s machine with the electronics has been frustrating considering I’ve been trying to help at a distance. The robot is the tightest packaging job 5254 has ever had to do, and things that are routine for 20 are unfamiliar territory for my considerably younger team from Trumansburg. 20’s 2013 and 2014 robots were incredibly tight packaging, while 5254 has only had robots with a ton of space available until this year. I expect the students to get used to working in the tighter spaces throughout Stronghold.

Good luck everyone, and you’ll see both 20 and 5254 at the New York Tech Valley and Finger Lakes Regionals during Weeks 3 and 4!

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